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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle


I have been doing sales training and consulting for nearly 20 years and I always get a chuckle when salespeople tell me they need to find ways to close business in two calls. When I hear this today, I wonder where these people are living. Do they live on the same planet as I do? It’s not about the number of calls—it’s about the length of the sales cycle. And the sales cycle doesn’t start until the buyer is ready for it to start.

There are a few reasons salespeople are fixated on trying to close business in just two calls:

  1. Their pipeline is weak, so anytime someone meets with them, they want to try to close the business fast.
  2. They fail to identify where the buyers are in the buying process (is the buyer just starting to realize he or she has a need, or is the buyer near the end of searching for various options to a known need?).
  3. Their sales managers are counting how many proposals they push out, so they attempt to speed up the process (and often slow down the sale).

Don’t get consumed with the two-call close—or what usually turns out to be the two-call non-close or the two-call small-close. Instead, become fixated with shortening your sales cycle. Here are three ways to shorten your sales cycle:

  1. Start with a really interested prospect (from a referral, past relationship, inbound marketing, etc.).
  2. Realize where each prospect is in the buying process. If a prospect is just now becoming aware of a need, you will do yourself more harm than good trying to deliver a proposal on your second call.
  3. If the prospect is deeper into the process, move on to ideas and possible solutions as soon as possible. You should be able to do this in your first meeting, but not until you are talking about an important need he or she has.

Let’s go a little deeper on just the first one on the list above. There are a lot of things you can do to be sure your first call is with someone who is a really interested prospect. You could start an inbound marketing program to get interested prospects to raise their hands. You could use social business tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to engage in social selling. You could work hard to get referrals. All of these are examples of ways that help you start out with a prospect that is really interested. Now you just need to take an interest in your prospect!

20 Steps to Social Selling

Topics: Inbound Marketing sales cycle prospecting